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  • Workplace Injury: Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I Need an Attorney?

    A worker’s compensation case involves a totally different process than a regular personal injury or negligence case. Depending on the severity and circumstance that lead to your injury, you may need an attorney. Responsibility in a worker’s compensation case is not assigned based on whether an employer was negligent. Even if the employer was not negligent, he or she can still be responsible for paying benefits.

    If an employee has a severe injury, they will most likely need to hire an attorney to pursue a case. If an employee suffers from a sprained finger that heals in one or two days, they generally would not be advised to file for worker’s compensation. Losing time at work or needing prolonged treatment are usually good indicators of a legitimate workman’s comp claim.

    Do I Have a Case?

    Employees can get hurt at work in a variety of different ways. He or she can hurt their back picking something up the wrong way at a factory, or they can slip on a wet floor and sustain an injury. Employees who are driving a company car and are involved in a car accident would also be eligible.

    Workman’s compensation does not mean the employer had to be negligent for benefits to be paid out. There are situations where secretaries who have been sitting at a desk for 10 years develop carpal tunnel syndrome and they would be eligible for worker’s compensation. This is an example of an occupational claim. There is no one specific day that the employee hurts him or herself. The wear and tear has been building up over the years of working.

    If there is a measurable difference between a victim’s physical activity in his or her everyday life and work life, they most likely have a legitimate worker’s compensation claim. There is a wide range of injuries sustained in worker’s comp cases. Some of the most common are neck, back, and knee injuries, caused by heavy lifting or twisting.

    What Compensation Can I Receive for a Workplace Injury?

    Worker’s comp has three basic elements of recovery. If the accident is reported, and the treatment is authorized, an employee’s medical bills will be paid by the insurance company.

    Another avenue of recovery is if the employee has been out of work for more than a week. This employee would be eligible for ‘temporary disability’. Although there are a few exceptions, temporary disability usually pays about 70 percent of the employee’s wages. Some public entities will pay all the costs.

    Finally, there is a situation where an injured party finishes his or her treatment and returns to work, but still has some residual problems with the injury. If this occurs, the employee is entitled to a permanent award. This situation is most common reason for a victim to hire a worker’s compensation attorney.

    What is Involved in the Legal Process?

    There is a statute of limitations in New Jersey that limits how long a person has to file a workman’s comp claim. The limitation is two years from the last benefit. For example, if you were under active treatment for six months after a work-related accident, the statute of limitations begins to run after the last doctor visit that was paid by the insurance company. The treatment time period does not have to be short. We have had clients who were being treated for six years and were able to file a workman’s comp claim.

    In New Jersey, once treatment is finished, the employee files a claim petition. This is filed against the employer and served on the insurance company, then an answer will be filed.

    A doctor who is trained in permanency rating will examine the client, or petitioner. The insurance company will also have the employee examined by their own trained professional. There is usually a discrepancy between what the petitioner’s doctor says and what the insurance company’s doctor says. One permanency rating is usually higher than the other. When this happens, there is a negotiation process, and the claims will, most of the time, be resolved.

    While in a normal personal injury case, a settlement can occur by the client signing a release and being paid what was agreed on, a worker’s comp case settlement has to be approved by a judge. This means that if a settlement is reached, the client will have to go to court at some point and tell the judge that he or she feels the settlement is fair. Contacts us at (908) 925-8300.

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